Crime, Law, and Bail Bonds in Birmingham, AL- What You Need to Know
You need to be able to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of you and your loved ones should you ever get involved in the criminal justice system. While much of the information contained in this article can apply throughout the entire United States, there is a focus on the Birmingham, AL area in particular, due to the high crime rate there.
According to an article written on September 30, 2017, Alabama has America’s third highest murder and homicide rate. In 2016 alone, 407 violent deaths were categorized as manslaughter or murder. 26,000 violent crimes such as robbery, assault, rape, vehicle theft, burglary, property crime, and other crimes were also reported in the state. When it comes to Birmingham, the crime rate is 228% higher than in other cities in the state and 352% higher than America’s average. Birmingham city has a population of approximately 1.1 million.
Statistics show that the longer someone stays in a jail cell, the greater the chances of them remaining there even longer become. If you have been charged with a crime and are awaiting a court appearance in Birmingham, AL, it is better to be able to appear in court not wearing a jail uniform and not handcuffed and shackled. In most cases, the quickest and least expensive method to get out of jail is to hire a bail bondsman. Simply go online and do a search for bail bonds Birmingham al and you will find a list of bondsmen.
The Birmingham Police department offers professional law enforcement services to those who live, travel, shop, and work in the city. It protects life, property, and deters crime. The Chief Police is the head of the police department and he is assisted by a deputy chief police. This law enforcement department is further divided into 3 divisions. These divisions are patrol, services, and investigations. To enhance their effectiveness, the police officers patrol the city on foot, motorcycles, and bicycles. The patrol officers also interact with different citizen groups, schools, and businesses about drug abuse, traffic matters, and crime prevention.
When an individual is arrested, they are transported to the jail and booked (an administrative process where the police officers record personal details such as the suspect’s name, age, and take fingerprints) where one of the 3 things will happen. One, the police can release you with a written notice to show up in court. Two, the police can release you after you have paid a certain bail amount. Three, they can keep you in a cell until the court is ready for a bail hearing.
If arrested in Birmingham, AL, generally you are transported to the Jefferson County Jail which holds both federal and state inmates awaiting trial. It has personnel who can offer important information regarding the inmate’s charges, bail amount, how to arrange for bail, and other issues that may arise during a suspect’s jail stay. It’s also possible that instead of going to the Jefferson County Jail, you will remain at the Birmingham City Police Department which houses inmates sentenced in Birmingham courts and courts in other Jefferson County area.
As mentioned a moment ago, once arrested you may be required to post bail in order to be released from Jail. In a Layman’s terms, bail is an agreement between the court and the defendant where the defendant/suspect is released from custody and given a date to appear in court to answer charges made against them. Posting bail serves as an assurance that the defendant will appear in court at the appropriate time. Bail is not a way of punishing the defendant, nor a revenue collection method by the court.
The amount of bail needed is determined by the court and the funds are held by the court until the proceedings are completely over and the case has been disposed of.
In Birmingham, AL the bond is set by a Judge, and the following factors are considered:
- Age and family ties of a defendant
- Defendants health, reputation, and character
- The defendant’s prior criminal record
- Nature of the offense charged
- Type of weapon (if any) used
- Value of the property damaged (if any) when committing the offense
- Flight risk
If a defendant is not in a position to pay the bail amount, they can hire the services of a professional bail bondsman. In Alabama, the defendant has to pay the bondsman at least 10 percent of the bail amount. The bondsman will then post the full amount of the bond with the appropriate court. The bondsman may ask for collateral and if the defendant does not have enough collateral, the bondsman finds out whether the defendant’s loved ones can assist with this. Collateral includes any valuable property such as a car, money, jewelry, or a title deed that the bondsman may take hold of in case the defendants fails to appear in court.
If the defendant does not show up in court the bail bondsman must pay the court the entire bail amount. The bail bondsman may use the defendant’s collateral to pay for this. If the defendant does appear for all required court hearings, the bail bond is released and the collateral returned to the individual who posted it. The bondsman will keep the ten percent which is their fee.
When you are searching for a bail bondsman in the Birmingham, AL area you should ask yourself these questions:
- Does the agent have a current bail license? Check this at Alabama Department of insurance official website.
- Does the agent just hang out in court and jail soliciting guests, or do they have an actual office?
- What is their rating with BBB (Better Business Bureau)?
- Do they have a website?
- Does the agent come recommended from a person you trust?
If a defendant is rearrested while out on bail, the bond can be revoked and the bondsman’s liability will be released. However, you will not be entitled to a refund on any of the money you paid the bail agent. If you want to be released on the new charge, you will most likely have to post 2 new bonds (one for the new charge and one for the original charge). You will also have to pay for both bonds.
The criminal justice system is very complex and often times difficult to understand. Even in the best circumstances, it can cost a lot of money to defend yourself and stay out of jail. You want to make sure you know what your different options are and you want to understand them. It is important to seek legal advice from an expert before making any decision.